Addressing Alcohol Use through Policy Implementation

Gerneiva Parkinson, 2015 GHLI Fellow 
History, culture, tradition and income. When I was growing up in this beautiful twin- island, Trinidad and Tobago, these were some of the associations used when talking about rum and other alcoholic beverages. Being a former sugarcane colony, alcohol is integrated into the rich heritage of this country. As a result, alcohol consumption is very popular within the country – with that brings alcohol-related health issues. 
Islanders are prone to high rates of binge drinking, and there is an alarmingly high alcohol usage among the adolescent population. Despite these issues, there is little in place to restrict or control alcohol use and subsequent abuse. As a GHLI Fellow, this summer I worked with with members from the Ministry of Health and a university to develop a national policy and action plan to control alcohol use and decrease its harmful effects on society. Daily, we pooled together research on past alcohol studies to create evidence for our policy draft. We also reached out to other government, regional and non-profit groups to spread awareness and ultimately create an alliance towards alcohol control.

Alcohol will always be a part of T&T’s heritage, but we can find ways to make its use safer and more responsible. I look forward to working with this fantastic delegation for the next year, as we usher in a new policy for alcohol regulations. It has been wonderful to see the various delegates with different backgrounds and skill sets collaborating for one cause; forged from a unifying love to see our country flourish safely. With my career interests surrounding NCDs in the Caribbean region, this opportunity as a GHLI Fellow has been a unique and absolutely magnificent experience here at Yale. 
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